Cultural and religious complex in Iran features roof shaped like interlocking fingers

A+Awards: this community centre and mosque in Tehran by Kalout Architecture Studio, which won a 2016 Architizer A+Award, is designed to look like linking hands.

The Imam Reza Cultural and Religious Complex is located in the cultural district of the Iranian capital, which has seen a recent boom in contemporary architecture thanks to the lifting of crippling economic sanctions across the country.

The building houses a mosque, an art gallery, a bookstore coffee shop, an amphitheatre and an IT centre under one roof. This roof is designed to look like interlocking fingers “as a symbol of unity and social cohesion”.

Kalout Architecture Studio organised the various functions into stone-clad wings around the central “dome” that arches over the shabestan – an underground space typically found in mosques, houses and schools in Iran.

“The main form of the shabestan, with the grandeur of a religious space, provides the opportunity of a unique experience to fulfil the immemorial ambition to connect with the creator and feel the symbolic form of the dome,” said the architects.

“Following this main form, the side wings of the building with the supplementary functions rise from and rest on the ground to create an innovative form visually.”

The dome is formed from handmade glass engraved with the many names of god, while bricks are laid to create an intricate repetitive pattern across the main walls.

The two materials are paired to symbolise “ascending movement from earth to light”.

Other elements borrowed from traditional Persian architecture include a sunken courtyard with a small pool, and a cedar statue that represents “constancy, life and freedom”.

The Imam Reza Cultural and Religious Complex won in the Religious Buildings and Memorials at the 2016 A+Awards.

Organised by Architizer, the awards promote and celebrate the year’s best projects and products.

Their stated mission is to nurture the appreciation of meaningful architecture in the world and champion its potential for a positive impact on everyday life. Find out more about the A+Awards ›

Project credits:

Architects in charge: Saeed Reza Boreiri, Samaneh Ghasempour
Project team: Nasim Alavi, Shima Mavedati, Navaz Foladzari, Masoud Roknipour, Anahita Basiri, Atefeh Ahoie, Ghazal Refalian, Reza Valajam, Bijan Vaziri, Mohammad Karimi, Farnosh Esmaili
Structure design: Behrang Baniadam
Mechanical design: Jafar Asadi
Electrical design: Mohammad Reza Hosseini
Manager supervision: Reza Jalali
Supervisor: Reza Karimi
Supervision team: Reza Jafari, Maryam Johari, Vadod Asadollahvash, Karim Tabari, Bahram Alvand, Shervin Atrsaiy, Milad Asgarian
Artwork team: Peiman Banishorka, Hossein Tonekaboni, Mohsen Daienabi, Reza Gharebaghi, Farid Bakhtiari
Adviser: Mehdi Hojat

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